No. 1 Korean

Well, my weekend was pretty eventful. Friday, because of the lamest possible injury I suffered in hapkido class on Wednesday, I decided not to go to class. Instead, I met some friends and had dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant. It wasn’t anything mind blowing, but it was good. Afterwards, one person went home, but the rest headed to the Beer Barn. I really enjoy that place. It’s the perfect place to start a night. Just straight up cheap beer.

Anyway, we sat there long enough to get free shit. Then, when I went to pay, the guy behind the counter said “Here’s a diary.” It’s not actually a diary. It’s more of a daily planner. But it says diary on it. I guess, I just look like someone that’s got shit to write down. So many of the best writers were alcoholics, no?

Went to Rock Station for awhile. It was pretty much just a large group of friends there singing karaoke. There was also a group of like four older Korean guys that kept arm wrestling people in our group. They really wanted to arm wrestle me, but I was in no mood. Mostly because they were all really good at arm wrestling and I didn’t feel like getting embarrassed by old Korean guys.

After awhile, I got kind of bored, though. Karaoke really isn’t my thing. I ended up in Dolce, but I wasn’t really in the mood for that either. It was Salsa Night there, though by the time I got there it had regressed to just a general hip hop night. Not a dancer, or a singer, so I was just not really participating in all the fun everone else was having. Just sat and drank for awhile before I got sick of it enough to leave.

Saturday I woke up, had lunch, and met a friend to go to Seoul. When we got there, we met up with a third person and headed to Hongdae to get the third guy a phone, since he’s new to Korea. It was pretty easy. After that, we just walked around, wasting time. Got some coffee. Headed to the park area. When we got there, as usual, there was something interesting going on. A big ass trampoline was set up, and there was this tiny like 2 year old Korean girl jumping on it holding some balloons while some people filmed her.

We stood around for maybe 5 minutes watching. It was only around 5:30 PM, and it would be a couple more hours before other people started to show up to go to bars, so we weren’t really sure what to do in the mean time. Just at that point, a Korean woman came up to us and said she needed a guy to go up on the trampoline, so Steve volunteered. Then she came back and said she needed a second guy, so I got up there. We held a sign cut in half that said “nature” in Korean, and a maybe 10 year old girl holding a fake potted plant got up there and jumped with us.

We were up there for maybe just 10 minutes. Had to do a couple different takes because apparently the camera guy wasn’t ready every time the woman in charge started the countdown for us to start jumping. After it was done, I gave the chick my e-mail. Hopefully I’ll hear back soon. She did tell me they were shooting for a band’s music video, and the band was called No. 1 Korean. She said they were on YouTube, but the only stuff I found was for a song called the same thing by a much more popular artist. They are on MySpace though. So, yeah, I’m going to be in a Korean ska band’s music video. That’s the best part of Hongdae. The random shit that’s always going on there always provides an opportunity for adventure.

Pretty soon after we started drinking. At first, it was just the three of us, but after a couple pitchers, more people showed up. It ended up being about the perfect night drinking wise. I got drunk, but never wasted. Seemingly, I was bottomless. I have a hard time recalling a night where I drank more, but I never lost control or blacked out. So I was pretty happy with it. The only hitch was when I got into the cab to go to the jjimjilbang, I lost my phone in the cab. When I realized it, almost immediately after getting out of the cab, I was upset, but drunk enough to just give it up for lost.

Luckily though, in a rare event, luck actually bounced my way. I ran into a friend and his Korean girlfriend at the jjimjilbang, so she called my phone. The taxi driver answered and they agreed to bring it back, for the small fee of just 4,000 won. There are no free favors here, I suppose. I think he just turned the meter on for the time when she called to whenever he showed up at the jjimjilbang. Whatever. It’s certainly worth the 4,000 won to not have to go through the hassle of getting a new phone.

Sunday was a little different. I got home around 12:30 PM and just watched movies and TV shows until it was time for the language group. When I got there it was only three foreigners and me, so I kind of gave up on the idea of studying that night, even though Koreans showed up a little bit later. Also, I was just not in the mood. As much as I want to learn Korean, and as much energy I put into it, sometimes I regress to a point where I’m like “Fuck, I don’t want to know this language. It makes everything so much more complicated.” The phase doesn’t occur often or live long, but it does happen. I’m not really sure why.

I also got kind of depressed sitting there, so I left. It sounds dumb, but the reason I was depressed was because a girl there was just too beautiful. I think any person from the group who reads this could pretty easily understand who I’m talking about, so maybe it’s not the best idea to write about it, but whatever. Recently a woman has been showing up that’s just 10/10 drop dead gorgeous beautiful. I feel like I have no occasion to talk to her. It’s not because she’s intimidatingly beautiful, though I have met a rare couple women with that quality.

She’s got a very warm, kind, open personality. I just can’t think of any reason to talk to her. I know more than a couple of the guys in the study group are interested in her. I, myself, at this point am not. That’s actually why I don’t want to talk to her. Right now, aside from being beautiful and a very general impression I get from being around her, I don’t know her very well. I just want to keep it that way. Not because I think she’d spoil some idealistic image I have of her. I’m just concerned that I’d end up falling for her, so I avoid all the embarrassment and heartache by not talking to her. Yes, stupid, I know, but entirely depressing.

Monday at work was a little strange. I was expecting a new teacher, because Diane said someone was replacing her. I got a call from Mr. Lee at 9:03 AM saying I had to come to his office to help revise textbooks. What it really was was his designer for the books was incorporating my revisions into the file she had, and basically all I had to do was pick out the pictures to go with each question or whatever. It was pretty much a waste of my time.

I met the new teacher and we chatted a bit. Had lunch, then showed up to teach about 5 minutes before class started. I was under the impression Diane had quit and the new teacher, Jane, would be working in her stead. Instead, I found out over lunch that Jane would actually actually be co-teaching with me. That is to say, she would be sitting in the back of the room watching me teach all day. When I found this out, I was a little pissed off. I mean, to me it seemed like because of the fairly recent event with the student which prompted several students to be pulled from the program, and the apparently endless wave of complaints Mr. Lee tells me he receives, the case was that she was there to babysit me and make sure I’m not beating these kids or something.

Still, having her in the classroom did make things easier. Especially with the first grade class. They were thrown a little by a new person, so there behavior in general was a little bit better, and when some of them did start to act up, she was helpful in getting them to settle down without necessarily needing punishment.

Overall, the day was pretty good, actually. We started new books, so there was lots of new work to do. With my second two classes I started a new exercise after someone mentioned what he did in his classes. Basically, it’s an extension of my points system. I put up 10 points on the board, and every time that a student speaks in Korean, I take away one point. If I take away all ten points, then I’m going to give the kids a writing assignment. If they still have points left at the end of class, everyone gets a point.

I have never had a class so silent before yesterday. It was ridiculous. At first, the kids were like “Shit, we can’t speak Korean anymore? Damn!” but then they adapted pretty well. They made much more effort to speak only in English, and if not, they just didn’t speak. It was amazing. Definitely incorporating this into all my classes from now on.

I’m a little less excited for today. One class has a new kind of book. Something totally different from the rest of the books we’ve used in the entire time I’ve been here. Not exactly sure how I’m going to teach it yet. Also, it’s one of my long days. Never excited for those. But I’ll get through it.

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